I like thinking of proper secret-sharing protocol in the context of loyalty hierarchies.
When I share personal information with someone, I have an implicit assumption that they will share this information only with people higher in their loyalty hierarchy than I am.
For example: I tell my friend Barbara that I am having marriage difficulty and I am worried my husband Bob is going to divorce me. I would consider it inappropriate if she shared this information down-rank with our casual coworker Beth, but it would be fine if she shared it up-rank, with her childhood best friend of 25 years Brittany, or Barbara’s husband Billy.
As in; every time I choose to share information, I assume I am sharing it with a tree of loyalty. I do not just share information with Barbara, I am sharing it with Barbara-Brittany-Billy.
A loyalty branch ends when information is shared to you by your closest loyal partner. If Barbara’s highest loyal rank – her husband – shares personal information with her, there is nobody up-rank to spread the information to, so the chain dies with her.
I am only displeased by information sharing when it is shared down-rank. Sharing up-rank means that the information will end soon – the end being whenever it is shared with the highest loyal rank (husband to Barbara). If everyone shares up-rank, the information spread is contained. But in spreading down and up-rank, the spread can go indefinitely, until everybody in the world knows and is telling me to divorce Bob already and get it over with.
Of course this is negated if explicitly stated otherwise. If I tell Barbara not to tell a soul about my troubled relationship with Bob, then I would expect her not to.
I don’t know if other people operate by this rule or not, but I get the impression that most people vaguely adhere to it in general terms. Do you have any sorts of rules for privacy and information sharing?